Individual cooking needs dictate types of pots, pans

WHAT'S COOKING?

September 01, 1993|By Rita Calvert | Rita Calvert,Contributing Writer

Q: What is nonreactive cookware?

A: This is a pot or pan that is made of a material that will not cause a reaction in the food such as discoloration or altered flavors.

Q: What kind of pots and pans are best?

A: This is a major purchase decision that should be approached with your individual cooking needs in mind since there are so many types of pots and pans available.

There are some basic guidelines to follow however. Pots and pans should be made of a heavy, durable material that will evenly conduct the heat and not burn the food from uneven heating.

Consider the handle of your cookware; do you want it to be oven-proof as well, so that you can transfer from stove top to oven? The following are different materials to consider before purchasing.

If you practice low-fat cooking, nonstick coated pans are advisable, but make sure that a substantial warranty is offered.

* Anodized or treated aluminum (such as Calphalon) will not react with foods, requires easy care, and conducts and retains heat well. These have a more professional look.

* Cast iron coated with enamel (Le Creuset) is heavy (sometimes considered too much so), holds the heat evenly and is considered attractive. This cookware line does not offer a very large stock pot in the same material.

* Stainless steel is a relatively poor conductor of heat, but easy maintenance and nonreactive qualities are the benefits. Other metals such as copper or aluminum are often sandwiched between the stainless steel to improve heat conduction.

* Copper pots are beautiful and conduct heat well but must be lined; they can cause a reaction in food and require a lot of care in polishing and also keeping the surface free from scratches. Copper is also very expensive.

Q: Is it better to make your own pesto or buy it? I recently tried to make it in my blender and it became a huge mess since I couldn't get the basil chopped.

A: Each option has its merit. If you have an abundant amount of fresh basil, I recommend making your own and adjusting the garlic, amount of oil, nuts and cheese to your needs. For a time saver, purchased pesto from the refrigerated section of your supermarket is quite tasty.

To make pesto in a blender, you will need to first add the oil, then add the basil in batches, pushing down until all is pureed. You can then add the nuts and cheese.

Send your questions to: What's Cooking, c/o Food & Home, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278. Although personal replies are not possible, questions of general interest will be answered in this column.

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